The Babylonians

Civilizations of the Fertile Crescent:  The Babylonians

Based in the ancient city-state of Babylon, the Babylonian empire stretched across the entire region of Mesopotamia and beyond at its height, around the year 1770 B.C. under its most famous ruler, Hammurabi. Hammurabi is most known for being a conqueror and a law-giver.

The Code of Hammurabi set out the concept of a punishment fitting the crime. He had his laws carved into stone and set in the center of the towns he ruled, so that all would know the laws. The thinking behind Hammurabi's laws can be summed up in the phrase, "An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth." This means that if a man injures another by putting out his eye, then that man's eye will be put out as punishment.

The laws were more symbolic since most people in those days were unable to read and write, but Hammurabi created the concept of the rule of law, and the idea of fairness in the justice system.

The interesting thing about the Babylonian Empire was that it existed for a period around 1770 B.C, and declined, but returned again around 600 B.C. as the "New" Babylonian Empire under King Nebuchadnezzar.

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Some useful sources for information about the Babylonians:

LookLex: Babylonia
Babylonian Numbering System
Wikipedia Entry